ABERNETHY, BOB: China's Communists appear insecure fifty years after taking control. Falun Gong, an ostensibly nonpolitical religion emphasizing meditation and exercises, has acquired so many members that the government considers it a threat. Last week, Chinese authorities outright banned the Falun Gong movement and began arresting its adherents. The crackdown stepped up this week, with the Chinese government requesting the arrest of the movement's founder, who lives in New York. Kim Lawton has further information.
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LAWTON, KIM: Followers of the Falun Gong meditation movement are gathering in Washington and towns around the United States to show sympathy with the besieged practitioners in China. Since China's Communist government began its crackdown last week, tens of thousands of people have been jailed. Falun Gong literature was confiscated and publicly destroyed this week.
Human Rights Watch/Mr. Asia's MIKE JENDRZEJCZYK: They've plainly concluded that such action outside of state control poses a threat to the government and the Communist Party, despite the fact that the latter claims to have no political objective.
LAWTON: Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, claims to have 100 million adherents worldwide, including a few thousand in the United States, although figures are difficult to verify. Li Hongzhi created the movement in China in 1992, and his teachings are disseminated through the Internet, books, and videotapes.
LAWTON: Li, who is 48 years old, now resides in New York City. Falun Gong, he claims, is a cultivation system for mind, body, and spiritual development, rather than a religion.
(Through Translator) Mr. LI HONGZHI (Falun Gong): To have a healthy body, one must build a good moral character, and it is only by doing so that meaningful progress can be made.
LAWTON: The ideals of Falun Gong are truth, compassion, and tolerance. It incorporates Buddhist and Taoist components, as well as meditation and exercises. According to Li, the practice taps into a powerful cosmic energy field that promotes tranquility and physical well-being. Falun Gong is a spiritual movement, according to its adherents.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: You don't just use your physical body to practice. You practice in the interim, cultivating your heart, mind, and spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I feel like everything around me is fading away. I'm in perfect sync with the cosmos.
THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT VIEWS THE MOVEMENT AS A DANGEROUS THREATENING. LAWTON: Officials at the embassy declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement condemning Falun Gong of promoting superstition, causing riots, and jeopardizing societal stability.
According to human rights experts, the effort is comparable to crackdowns on other groups, particularly religious ones, who are able to rally support for causes other than the Communist regime.
Mr. JENDRZEJCZYK: China is jittery.
Religious activity is attracting a rising number of people, particularly young people, who don't believe Marxist theory provides them with a moral or spiritual center. They are drawn to activities that are carried out outside of official authority.
LAWTON: Followers of Falun Gong claim they have no political ambitions. They claim that all they seek is to be able to exercise their faith without interference from the government. In Washington, I'm Kim Lawton.
ABERNETHY: You may have detected a swastika in the Falun Gong video. Falun Gong adherents claim that the emblem is a centuries-old Asian religious symbol, not the one made famous by the Nazis.
What do followers of Falun Gong believe?
Through moral rectitude and the practice of a set of exercises and meditation, Falun Gong aspires to enable the practitioner to ascend spiritually. Truthfulness (, Zhn), Compassion (, Shàn), and Forbearance (, Rn) are the three stated tenets of the doctrine.
What is Falun Gong known for?
WALK into any major Western city's Chinatown, and you'll almost certainly see a row of seated meditators with their legs crossed and backs straight on the main thoroughfare. They appear to be benign and could easily be mistaken for yoga students. In actuality, the meditators are performing a set of exercises from Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that China outlawed in 1999 and regards as a threat to national security “An evil cult.” Falun Gong practitioners join Tibetans, Uighur Muslims, democracy advocates, and pro-independence Taiwanese on the list “The Chinese government has identified five poisons as posing the greatest threat to its control. What is Falun Gong, and what does it entail?
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a Chinese spiritual practice “A collection of meditation exercises and writings known as “law wheel practice” in Chinese preaches the values of truth, compassion, and forbearance. It was formed in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, a former trumpet player, in north-east China. Falun Gong is based on qigong, a Chinese practice of controlled breathing and moderate bodily movements. Unlike other qigong-inspired disciplines that arose in the 1990s, which often claimed nothing more than health advantages for practitioners, Falun Gong claims to provide believers a way to redemption. Adherents would read the works of the prophets in order to acquire enlightenment “Master Li”, who is supposed to be able to levitate and walk through walls. Falun Gong had attracted millions of Chinese from all areas of life by the late 1990s. In every city, practitioners might be seen meditating in parks and public squares.
What are the benefits of Falun Gong?
Li, the enigmatic founder of Falun Gong, who may be hiding in Queens, New York, claims that magician David Copperfield possesses some significant falun, allowing him to walk through walls and do magic. Li writes in his work “Falun Gong”:
“David Copperfield, a famous American magician, is a master of supernatural skills who once walked through the Great Wall of China.
When he was about to pass through the Wall, he covered himself with a white cloth, pressed himself against it, and then passed through.
What was he thinking when he did that?
Many people would mistake it for a magic performance if you did it that way.
It had to be done this way because he knew there were many people in China who possessed extraordinary powers.
He covered himself before entering because he was terrified of them interfering.” (This quote is taken from the original English edition from the 1990s, which is no longer available on Falun Dafa's website.)
Li continues, “A person with a perfectly functioning and spinning falun can live for hundreds of years, tolerate all kinds of suffering, and avoid all kinds of disease.”
Falun Gong is distinct from qigong and t'ai chi for a reason. All movements in qigong are exact. T'ai chi is slow and methodical in order to enhance the flow of qi, or chi, which is roughly described as life energy and is the essential principle of qigong. Falun Gong practitioners are unconcerned about accuracy. The stretching is not intended to be rigorous in order to cultivate qi; rather, it is intended to cultivate universal energy by spinning the falun clockwise.
Falun Gong is made up of four standing postures and one meditative sitting pose. The “Way of Strengthening Supernormal Power” sitting stance is comparable to qigong meditation activities, which have been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure. Standing postures, like qigong positions, primarily stretch the upper body and have been proved to increase circulation. For example, the Falun Gong exercise “Penetrating the Two Cosmic Extremes” can be highly energizing. The arms move slowly up and down like pistons in this workout.
With arms stretched from side to side, like a hunter pulling back on a bow and arrow, the “Buddha Showing the Thousand Hands” exercise is most reminiscent of t'ai chi. The “Falun Standing Stance” exercise strengthens the arms and shoulders by suspending the arms in a U form over the head for several minutes. Finally, the “Falun Heavenly Circulation” exercise is running one's hands a few inches from the body's surface up and down the entire body.
The addition of xinxing, a code of morality that must be followed or the exercises are believed to be useless, distinguishes Falun Gong from qigong and t'ai chi.
In 2005, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston released a study about six Falun Gong practitioners in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (which they defined as an “ancient qigong”). Immunity and metabolic rates improved slightly in these people. There has been no follow-up research.
Getting out in the fresh air to practice soothing exercises with like-minded people could have some physical and mental health benefits, right?
However, the modern, watered-down Falun Gong exercises should not be mistaken for the disciplined movements of t'ai chi, which have been shown to improve balance, flexibility, stamina, blood pressure, general heart health, mental health, and symptoms associated with stroke, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease, among other things.
What does the Falun Gong symbol mean?
She spoke to education directors at three Holocaust sites during her week in Germany about the parallels between the Third Reich and China's current persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The 69-year-old St. Petersburg novelist, counselor, and spiritual guide braved the cold to speak to passers-by on a busy street corner in Hamburg.
She read the discourse that had brought her to the notice of the German-based Falun Gong adherents in German. It was the same lecture she gave at the University of South Florida in 2001 on United Nations Anti-Torture Day.
She added in her street corner statement that as a Holocaust survivor, she could never have considered supporting a group whose central symbol is the swastika. She claimed that the Falun Gong sign, which resembles the Nazi swastika, has long been connected with good fortune, well-being, and spiritual truth. Ms. Raphael informed her audience that the Nazis perverted the ancient symbol, literally and figuratively reversing it.
She remarked in an interview this week that what is happening to Falun Gong practitioners in China is a rerun of history.
“The truth is that the world was oblivious to what was going on in Germany at the time, and we hosted the 1933 Olympic Games in the midst of the Nazi era. And in 2008, we intend to do the same thing in China. In each case, the world is oblivious to the human rights violations and persecutions taking place “she stated
What religion is banned in China?
State control is increasingly taking the form of a registration process administered by the State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau, through which the government monitors membership in religious organizations, meeting locations, religious training, clergy selection, publication of religious materials, and funding for religious activities. Annual inspections of registered religious institutions are now conducted by the government. Failure to register can result in fines, property seizures, the destruction of “illegal” religious constructions, the violent dispersal of religious gatherings, and, on rare occasions, short-term incarceration. In Tibet, political screening of monks and nuns, as well as stringent oversight of their institutions, are used to maintain control. These restrictions not only infringe on religious freedom, but also on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. “Our goal is not registration for the sake of registration, but…control over sites for religious activities as well as over all religious activities themselves,” says Ye Xiaowen, director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs.
For a variety of reasons, the Chinese government is leery of religion. China is an officially atheist country, and Communist Party members are prohibited from believing in or practicing any religion; there is concern that religion could serve as an alternative to Communism, undermining government loyalty. Lessons from Eastern Europe and the role of the church in fostering opposition to Communist governments, particularly in Poland, are still vivid. Furthermore, China's officials are suspicious of religion's involvement in ethnic minority areas, which they believe is promoting pro-independence or “splittist” or separatist movements, particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang. (See the Tibet and Xinjiang briefing documents.)
Article 36 of China's constitution protects religious freedom, although this freedom is severely curtailed by the requirement that congregations conform to socialist ideals in their “theology, conception, and structure.” There are however some limits, such as the following:
1. The government establishes the parameters of what constitutes a religion. Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism are the five officially recognized religions. Everything else is seen as a form of superstition. According to this definition, “popular religion,” a syncretic mix of Daoism, Buddhism, and polytheistic components that appeals to the vast majority of Chinese believers, is not a religion at all, and hence cannot be practiced.
2. The government establishes what constitutes orthodoxy. The government can label a group's behaviors or belief structure as unorthodox even within recognized religions. The group in question is thus classified as a “cult” or “sect,” and might be outlawed as a result.
3. The government requires that all religious activities be conducted under the auspices of government-sanctioned religious organisations. Separate congregations, such as those affiliated with the Protestant “house church” movement, are prohibited. Their gathering places could be shut down or even dismantled. Members are frequently fined, harassed, and detained. Unofficial gatherings, such as Catholics' traditional observance of religious holidays on a hill in Jiangxiprovince on feast days, are strictly prohibited, and many participants have been imprisoned.
4. The registration process is used by the government to monitor all areas of legitimate religious practice and to distinguish between legal and illegal worship venues. Legally registered sites are subject to a slew of laws, including those listed above, as well as leadership selection, publication limits, financial oversight, and foreign contact regulation. “Temples, churches, Daoist temples, shrines, open-air statues of gods or of the Buddha” are among the religious structures that cannot be created without permission. The government has not only refused to provide permits, but has also demolished several structures, claiming that the number of worship locations already exceeds the population's demands. To hold “non-regular” religious events, applications must be submitted in advance. Travel restrictions for would-be preachers make proselytization illegal. The discussion of religion is prohibited. Organizations can be fined up to 50,000 renminbi (about US$7,000) in Shanghai and Guangzhou for violating the restrictions.
5. In addition to religious prohibitions, the government imposes restrictions on religious practice through other regulations and legislation.
Construction of religious sites is prohibited by city building and land use standards, the Law on Assembly and Demonstrations prohibits large-scale meetings and training classes, and laws governing printing and publishing limit the spread of religious materials. According to the government, no one is penalized for practicing religion; instead, those who break the law as defined by China's Criminal Code are punished.
6. In Hebei Province (where underground Catholic churches are prevalent) and Tibet, Chinese authorities utilize campaigns extensive efforts using education and coercion organized either locally or from Beijing to tear up big concentrations of illegal sites. Arrests, fines, forced confessions of illegal worship rituals, the destruction of monasteries and convents, school expulsions, and job loss are some of the tactics used. Campaign objectives include well-known local figures with large followings. They may be subjected to intense surveillance and isolated from their supporters and overseas relations.
The arrest and sentencing of Xu Yongze, a powerful leader of the large and well-organized BornAgain Christian movement, is a telling example of China's efforts to suppress the activities of religious leaders who refuse to submit to state control and whose religious practices are outside the pale of orthodoxy. To be saved, a person must cry for three days, according to the Born Again movement. According to one high-ranking Chinese religious official, Xu Yongze was not actually a Christian since he thought that to be true. According to the official, Xu “poisoned people's minds” by promoting the belief that the end of the world was approaching and illegally collecting people to cry. “Local people's daily lives and production were severely disrupted,” the official stated. Xu Yongze was arrested in March 1997 and obtained a sentence of three years or four years reduced to three years, according to various reports.
Repression in Tibet has taken the form of patriotic reeducation for all monks and nuns, as well as the expulsion of any who refuse to conform and repudiate the Dalai Lama. In 1996 and 1997, an estimated 3,000 monks and nuns were removed from their monasteries and nunneries. The Dalai Lama is constantly vilified by Chinese politicians. There is a limit on the total number of monks and nuns allowed in Tibet, as well as individual limits on the number of monks and nuns allowed in each monastery and nunnery. Furthermore, China has imposed secular supervision over monastic leaders and interfered in the appointment of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's second most significant figure.
What is Falun Gong harvesting?
Survivors of the persecution, torture, and forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China contacted HEQ in 2019, wanting to raise awareness of their condition. Falun Gong practitioners have been punished in China since 1999. Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritualist practice that combines meditation and Qigong exercise. Countless adherents of the practice have been arrested by the Chinese Communist Party.
Many practitioners have claimed that they were tortured while in China's vast network of detention centers and forced labor camps. Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, and other detainees have all been subjected to forced live organ harvesting, according to evidence. Due to a scarcity of willing organ donors within the country, China has taken drastic efforts to ensure that its citizens and ‘organ tourists' receive transplants.
These ‘organ tourists' come from all over the world to pay a minimum of £5,000 (5,857) for an organ from a non-consenting prisoner. Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned in China's detention centers and labor camps say they were subjected to unexplained medical examinations and blood tests as a prelude to live organ harvesting, while doctors involved in the practice say basements were filled with live prisoners whose organs were extracted on demand.
The China Tribunal
The China Tribunal, an independent legal examination of China's forced organ transplantation, issued its final judgment in June 2019. The Tribunal ruled that crimes against humanity had been perpetrated against China's Uyghur Muslim and Falun Gong populations, based on a comprehensive array of evidence and testimony from more than 50 witnesses.
The Tribunal's chairman, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, stressed that the only reason his verdict did not clearly declare genocide was because the Tribunal was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the'very specific aim' to eliminate Falun Gong and Uyghurs.
‘Forced organ harvesting has been committed on a large scale throughout China for years, and Falun Gong practitioners have been one and perhaps the primary source of organ supplies,' according to the Tribunal's final judgment. The Uyghurs have been targeted for persecution and medical testing in recent years, and proof of forced organ harvesting from this population may emerge in the future.
The Tribunal has received no evidence that China's significant infrastructure associated with the transplantation industry has been dismantled, and in the absence of a satisfactory explanation as to the source of readily available organs, it concludes that forced organ harvesting continues to this day.'
The Human Rights Council
“Commission of crimes against humanity against Falun Gong and Uyghursbeen shown beyond reasonable question,” said Hamid Sabi, counsel to the China Tribunal, in a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Cutting off the hearts and other organs of living, blameless, harmless, peaceful people is one of the deadliest mass atrocities of the twentieth century.
Transplanting organs to save lives is a scientific and humanitarian accomplishment, but killing the donor is unethical. Governments and international organizations must fulfill their responsibilities not only in the case of prospective genocide charges, but also in the case of crimes against humanity, which the Tribunal does not believe to be any less serious. Addressing this criminal behaviour is the legal obligation of UN Member States and the responsibilities of this council.”
Survivors and doctors speak out
HEQ spoke with two Falun Gong prisoners and labor camp survivors, both of whom described appalling treatment. Professor Wendy Rogers, a bioethicist, and Professor Jacob Lavee, co-founder of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, spoke with us about the medical and ethical implications of forced organ transplantation.
Rogers has published research that has led to the retraction of several academic papers that relied on the use of unethically sourced organs. Lavee was instrumental in the implementation of Israel's pioneering law prohibiting Israeli citizens from receiving forcibly harvested organs, and Lavee was instrumental in the implementation of Israel's pioneering law prohibiting Israeli citizens from receiving forcibly harvested organs.
‘Governments and anybody who interacts in any significant way with the… should now recognize that they are interacting with a criminal state, to the level indicated above,' the China Tribunal stated in its final judgment. Little has changed since the decision was handed down. More than a million Falun Gong practitioners are thought to have died in China's notorious gulag system, and another million ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghur Muslims are currently imprisoned in labor camps.
China continues to do business with governments and enterprises all over the world. Appalling human rights breaches have been committed over the course of several years, according to the survivors and academics we spoke with, and these violations continue to this day.
What is Falun Dafa meditation?
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a modern Chinese spiritual practice that incorporates meditation and Qigong exercises including body posture and slow motions to promote truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was founded on Buddhist ideas by Master Li Hongzhi, and it claims to bring a person to a condition of enlightenment and harmony.
It consists of five sets of exercises that are frequently accompanied by rhythmic background music and can be done at any time and in any location.
For the first time in the city, the INTACH Madurai chapter, in collaboration with LAMPS Trust and Lean In Madurai Circle, hosted a Falun Dafa orientation session. Tatiana, a Russian Falun Dafa practitioner living in Puducherry, was full of wit and enthusiasm as she went around adjusting the body posture of those who were new to Falun Dafa.
She sat in Padmasana with ease at the age of 63, while persons half her age battled.
What is the difference between Falun Gong and Falun Dafa?
Falun Gong (Chinese: ) is a Chinese spiritual practice “Falungong (“Dharma Wheel Discipline”), often known as Falun Dafa, is a controversial Chinese spiritual movement started by Li Hongzhi in 1992. The Chinese government was concerned about the movement's growing popularity in the late 1990s, and labeled it a terrorist organization “cult of heresy.”
Who is Falun Gong leader?
The founder and chief ring leader of “Falun Gong,” Li Hongzhi, currently resides in New York. To deceive practitioners and the general public, he has made up a significant number of lies and fallacies.
Is Tai Chi legal in China?
Many historic beliefs and artefacts were destroyed in China during the Great Leap Forward (195862) and the Cultural Revolution (196676). Because of its strong ties to Taoism and Buddhism, the Chinese authorities regarded religion as a pollution, making it more difficult to perform tai chi. Many masters of the art were persecuted, forcing many to escape the nation or continue their practices in secret.